A week before leaving for Tokyo, there was another unpleasant news that would have been quite fitting to dampen Martin Hainer’s anticipation for the long Olympic Games. A week before leaving for Tokyo, it became known that the competitions at the Olympics will now take place without spectators. “Of course it would have been nice if there were spectators,” says German national hockey player Hainer. But he was already hoping that it would not be like this: “What we just experienced at the European Football Championship is not what it should be.”
Tokyo 2021 is the third Olympic Games in which Martin Hainer participates. They will be different from past experience, special in every respect: with masks required in the Olympic Village, with distance and hygiene rules and with their own app that shows how crowded the cafeteria is. “We don’t really know what to expect,” Hainer says.
For the Berliner, who turns 33 in August, these games will be special as it will be his last. The moment the final siren sounds for the German men’s hockey men in Tokyo, Hainer’s career as an athlete is irrevocably ended. He took this decision a long time ago. But Martin Hainer still thought the summer of 2020 would be over for him. And not in the summer of 2021.
A lot has happened since the Olympic Games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hainer, who worked as a paramedic at Martin Luther Hospital, has become a father for the second time, and the family is currently building a home. Does the Olympics fit your life plan at all? Is it worth all the effort other than work and family? “I would never have done that for the world championships,” Hainer says. But Olympia is a different number. The Olympics is ultimately the reason you go through all the hardships – in a sport that is good for many medals, but not for a lot of money.
Hainer was the German champion, junior world champion, European champion and Olympic champion.
Skipping the Olympics would have been “more than unsatisfactory” for Martin Hainer. Once a week on Saturday, the German men’s hockey men will begin the Olympic tournament with a group game against Canada. For Hainer, this will be the 273rd international match of his career. He was German champion with Berlin HC, junior world champion, European champion, national team captain, winning gold (London 2012) and bronze (Rio 2016) at the Olympics. Ideally, there would still be eight international matches if the Germans played for one of the three medals.
It would be the end of an illustrious career for Hainer that began with his first international against Ireland in Dublin on 30 July 2005. Hainer was 16 years old. “That was a long time ago,” he says. So long that he doesn’t even know “we won or drew”. In the end it was 2:1 for the Germans. The national coach was Bernhard Peters, who later switched to football. “Playing under him was something very special,” Hainer says. Peters, who was known for his straight manner, made clear demands of him, no matter how small he was at the time. “If you’re here, there’s a reason,” the national coach told him. “I hope you don’t hide yourself and show what you can do.”
When 32-year-old Dr. Today, Hainer sees a student, Martin, who is about half his age, and then sees a boy who is sometimes annoyed with his sharp ways. “It certainly would have been helpful in some situations to hold more back,” he says. “If you don’t always deal with criticism the way ancestors imagined, you’re going to have a lot of problems in the beginning.” It could have been easier for Heiner if he still respected the sacred hierarchs at that time. But who knows what “you fought your way through the resistance” was good for?
It’s not for nothing that Hainer keeps the top name “sheriff”.
His position as a free central defender was and is not for Duckmoss. You have to make yourself heard, give commands, and sometimes get down to business. Hainer did it all and gave him the nickname “Sheriff”. At first he didn’t think it was that great. On the other hand, it hits the point quite well. The sheriff is the one who ensures the order, “the one who makes sure that his district is under control”. Heiner would do so again at the Olympics to achieve the goal the team had agreed upon: first to receive a medal.
“We’ve already benefited a little bit from the fact that the Olympics have been postponed by a year,” Hainer says. It was not until 2019, a few months before the actual date of the Games, that Kais Al Saadi took over the team as the national coach. “It would have been difficult to build something with a new coach in a short amount of time,” Hainer says. But since the spring the German men have made great progress. “You can tell that something has happened in the team,” Hainer says.
In the past, it was often the case that teams could not perform at their best at crucial moments. “Now we have managed to show our top level in important sports.” At last month’s European Championship, the Germans only lost in a penalty shoot-out against hosts Holland, even seconds before the end of regular time. “If the sentiments in our region are right and everyone invests everything for the team, we can beat the absolute top countries,” says Hainer. “We didn’t believe it – for whatever reason – in previous years.”
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This has raised hopes that the departure of the national team would be happier for Haner than the departure of his club. He last played for BHC in the semi-finals of the German Championship in May. The team from Berlin led 2:1 against Rot-Weiss Köln, finally it was 2:4. BHC coach Rein van Eijk said: “I am very sad to see him lose.” “He didn’t deserve it.” For Heiner himself it was “a brief moment when you were sad”, he says, “but nothing that would have occupied me for weeks”.
He is also ready for the end of his career. Hainer is not sad because it will be over soon, not even sad. “I got over it quite well mentally,” he says. “I noticed it was getting out of hand, and I’m happy when the time is up.” He will put the stick aside for a long time; She has not previously planned an active role in hockey. And no attempt was made to persuade him to continue. “Not at all,” says Martin Hainer. “Because everyone knows I’ll go with a decision I once made.”